You Have Been Conditioned To Be Unhappy – Break Free!
Have you ever been in a shopping mall or an airport or at a party and happened to have observed the way people treat their kids at such social gatherings? While there would be a kid who would have accidently dropped food from his plate, getting fiercely reprimanded by his parents, another one would be getting a “good girl” nod from her mother for not balking at reciting a poem in front of complete strangers. This makes me wonder that aren’t children domesticated just the way we domesticate an animal - being punished and rewarded for the actions that adults find acceptable? But in doing so, the adults have to be careful that we do not condition them to become unhappy in life.
And why I say this is because this conditioning is carried forward even to one’s adulthood. This conditioning invariably sets up rules that aim towards perfection based on the surrounding to which one belongs. In doing so, we not only compare ourselves to a standard set by the people whose validation matters the most to us – our parents, peers and teachers, but are constantly harsh towards ourselves coz of not fitting into the pre-fit image of what is ostensibly considered perfection. It is almost like there are a series of steps towards happiness, and one must walk the path. We often hear parents saying, do good in your studies, get admission in a good college and you will be happy. This is often followed by more instructions from people close to your life; getting a good job, getting a promotion, buying that house, car etc., and only then will you be happy. All the while them indoctrinating a thought process that happiness is transient and you must move to the next level of it.
Behind all this is a fear of being socially unacceptable, being rejected, being mocked at, that gets deeply embedded into one’s sub-conscious, at a very young age. And we often end up losing our own core identity in order to imitate this perfection, in order to gain appreciation and acceptance. This is why we find many artists lost in the robotic work life, because art wasn’t ever considered a viable career option. This is why we find people who are unable to express themselves, because they were never asked for opinions as kids. Or this is why we find extremely bossy people, because they have never known love, as kids. The conflict these people live out every single day, consciously or sub-consciously is massive. And often they do not know how to break free, their “struggle with self” triggering a domino effect on all the people associated with them. This is often the reason why we had an ill-tempered teacher at school who beat us up on her whim, an unsupportive parent, an abusive partner, a sadist boss, a timid friend, an over competitive colleague - the list is long.
And why only others, even we might have suffered from the limitations that we set up on ourselves while being kids. A lot of us have turned into these living breathing automatons, with set beliefs that limit us – we are not good enough, intelligent enough, attractive enough, unworthy of wealth, love, respect etc. The conditioning we received as kids is so deeply ingrained in us that we no more need an adult to domesticate us, we ourselves are our biggest critics. And hence it is the biggest challenge that we face - to break free of these thoughts that chain us to overcome our own fears. I remember being scared of choosing insurance as a profession, because I was trained to be a scientist. The society, my parents, my peers – all expected me to become a scientist, or a bureaucrat – but definitely not an insurance professional. But I did it anyway. Looking back, I realize that breaking free from that pattern is what gave me the boost and made me believe that I didn’t have to adhere to societal expectations to decide the course of my life. That decision, that choice was mine, and mine alone. And it is what that made all the difference, throughout the course of my life, to this day. As a young man I always found this quote to be close to my heart - “If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” It is slightly profane, but a lot profound.
I have hence always asked the people around me to take that chance, to take the risk, to push their limits and to question that little inner voice that plays the devil’s advocate in their mind. Only then will the other voice, the timid inner voice that we all had as kids will find its way back, strengthening its position in your mind, cheering you up, telling you – “you can do it, you can do it, you can do it.” And when you finally start breaking the patterns of your own self-imposed limitations, you’ll open up a whole spectrum of opportunities for yourself. And more than that, you’d realize that you can be anyone you want, you can have anything that you want and you can be as happy as you want.
We all have that power dormant deep within all of us, we must realize that and put it to use. Your happiness is yours for the taking, reach out and grab it. Break the shackles of your mind, liberate yourself and change your life!
About the author
Tapan Singhel is the MD & CEO of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Limited. This blog has been initiated by him so that he can directly interact with all the valuable customers and employees of this company.